Tzelem is…“My main support group and community…I look forward to going every time I go. It makes my day better.”

“A place where I can be myself.”

“A place to be around others like me, Queer and Jewish.”


“It’s a space where I feel comfort and pride as my identity as a trans person, which is really important in an otherwise pretty hostile world.”

“Being in Tzelem helped me think about how I want to be perceived in the world and how I can do this through religious and gender identity.”

Teens of all genders need spaces to connect with peers, adult mentors, and to be seen and accepted for who they are. We know from such research as The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health, spaces like these for LGBTQ+ youth are particularly necessary and needed. This research both points to alarmingly high rates of suicidality, depression, and anxiety for youth who face the hostile daily reality of homophobia and transphobia in our society, as well as to the factors that help drastically reduce those rates: relationships and communities that affirm and support these youth for who they are. 

Named from the idea of B’Tzelem Elohim (created “in the image of God”), Moving Traditions’ Tzelem does just that. Tzelem is an affinity group for LGBTQ+, nonbinary, and gender expansive Jewish teens to be embraced by their peers and an adult mentor for exactly who they are, celebrating the intersection of their Jewish, adolescent, queer, and other identities.

In Boston this year we will be offering two Tzelem groups and teens can choose one, or join both groups. The first group will be for trans/nonbinary/gender expansive teens and will run mostly on Zoom with a Chanukah celebration and end of the year party in person. The other group will be for all LGBTQ+ teens and will meet in person.

Both groups will meet monthly on different Sundays and focus on topics such as healthy relationships, stress, belonging and identity; sessions also include opportunities to meet other teens and Jewish LGBTQ adult mentors, and to discuss issues that they care about. The teens explore the issues through games, art, discussion, and by drawing on Jewish teachings.

Our research shows that our teens are feeling the impact. Here is what teen participants are reporting:

  • 94% said, “I developed a connection to a supportive community.”
  • 94% said, “I found a place where I could be myself and feel accepted for who I am.”
  • 100% said, “I felt supported (in my needs around mental, emotional, social, and/or spiritual health) by my group leader.”


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